Fluency in the Primary Grades: Oral Reading Fluency in Levels D – I

From Fountas & Pinnell’s Teaching for Comprehending & Fluency

In Levels D–I, our Kindergarten & 1st Graders are beginning to process text features with more automaticity and (as a result) will increase the pace of reading.  As with Levels A–C, fluency will vary depending on the difficulty of the text; however, this is where our students will begin to reap the rewards of a “balanced diet” of texts.

According to Fountas & Pinnell, readers must “read new but easier texts and re-read texts to build fluency.”  In other words, reading (and re-reading) experiences must be provided at various levels and must be a regular part of our daily routines.  Activities to support this can take place during station time, as a regular transition routine (with brief conferencing), or as a quick “reading warm-up” prior to beginning a guided reading lesson!

Once students arrive at the guided reading table, however, it is time to challenge our readers as we support them in processing more difficult texts.  It is through explicit, skill-based instruction (and modeling), that we will help our young readers to successfully navigate these text features:


Instruction within this text band, will continue to promote “oral reading” (as opposed to Levels J+, where we will begin to promote silent reading) so we can closely monitor fluency skills.  As students read, however, we must remember that fluent reading should not be expected throughout (hence the balanced “diet”).

When we have matched students to their instructional level there “will be points at which the reader will work on words; repeat to check accuracy, language, or meaning; or stop to figure out what is happening.”  There will also be points were readers begin to self-monitor and we will observe the following behaviors:


As we work with students in the primary grades it is essential that we promote these self-monitoring skills through a variety of genres, text levels, and teacher supports.  This will help to ensure that once students reach Level J (and beyond) they will be ready to shift from learning to read, to reading to learn.  After all, “nothing increases a reader’s [proficiency] more than reading a great many texts!”



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